When most of us are dragging ourselves from sleep on a Saturday morning, it’s not just the boaties who have beaten us out of bed. By nine o’clock, the University Golf Club will already be wide awake, having arrived at a course a few hours’ drive from Oxford, and probably be a bit of the way around it too.
What was clear from everything Oliver told me was that the lifestyle of an Oxford golfer is significantly different from that of most undergrads, and certainly has the potential to be a lot of fun.
The University team is away from Oxford all weekend for six or seven weekends during term time in Michaelmas and Hilary, and with training on Wednesday afternoons as well, they only have four and a half days to get all their work done.
Oliver has been playing golf since the age of four, but only took it up properly aged 14.
In his time at Oxford, he has played in the Varsity game in every year of his four-year course, becoming secretary of the club in his third year and going on to captain the team in his fourth.
He was concerned about the responsibility of captaining the team. Having already been secretary, he wasn’t concerned about his abilities as an administrator, but whether he had the charisma to lead.
Judging from the club’s success under his leadership, it is evident that he certainly had the right qualities to inspire his fellow team mates. In a normal year, the club would win about five or six games; understandable, given that they are playing other clubs on their home courses. But this year, Oliver managed to lead the team to victory in 18 matches, only losing six and drawing three.
These were the best results in the last 15 years, and makes this year’s team one of the best from either Oxford or Cambridge in the last 50 years.
Out of his highlights from his year as captain, winning the Varsity match features prominently for Oliver. At the Royal Porthcawl Golf Club in Wales, Oliver’s ‘lead by example’ attitude made his desire to win keener than ever.
At the 27th hole, the captains of the two university clubs were tied with only nine holes left to play. Cambridge’s website puts the win down to luck, but Oliver says that he came out on top due to playing some of the best shots he has ever hit. Oxford went on to be the overall winners.
Despite two and a half days of training, early mornings, and strong competition to get into the blues team, what is most clear is that Oliver has thoroughly enjoyed his time in the club.
Spending most weekends together, the team is very close, and Oliver had many stories about their times away, from practical jokes amongst the team to the lavish hospitality of the clubs and people they stayed with.
He says that the reason he wanted to become captain is due to a desire to have an input on one of the parts of his university life that he enjoyed the most.
Oliver described the university golf club as “Oxford’s best kept secret,” and it was obvious that he was elated at the fact that leaving university did not mean the end of his time golfing with Oxford as he, like most blues, will now be accepted into the highly prestigious Oxford and Cambridge Golf Club.